Lights for night riding- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Jeff_FLG
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    Lights for night riding

    I'm considering evening rides, since daytime is out due to work, after work/early evening due to kids, and early mornings usually due to inertia; even weekends lately seem increasingly committed. I discussed a bunch of lighting options from Niterider at my LBS and would welcome any other advice.

    Specifically, other than the obvious spec differences, what are the relative advantages of a single-lamp model (like the Blowtorch) and dual lamp models (e.g., the Digital Pro)? It seems that the dual lamp might be better -- if the beams are parallel -- as the "landscape mode" illumination would better replicate your natural field of vision.

    Also, if you have one light, what's better -- bars or helmet? LBS says bars, which seems reasonable since the bars are either (1) pointed where you want to go, thus illuminating the trail, or (2) not pointed where you want to go, in which case your problems might go well beyond the quality of your lighting.

    Thanks very much for input from anyone who has some experience with this. I'd like to get lighting that will initially get me around the forest roads near my home, but which could also do the job on more serious nearby singletrack, should I get that adventurous.

  2. #2

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    ???

    What kind of riding will you be doing at night? That is the first thing to think about before you spend your money on anything. I have recently been looking at various systems myself. I was caught up in the forest a couple months ago when night fell. The moon was only half full and it was pitch black. I was only half way thru the ride when darkness fell. it was a 12 mile trip. It was damn scary I tell ya. I am looking at the various manufacturers higher end systems that have batteries that will fit in a water cage. Of course the lights are "bar mounted".

  3. #3
    Jeff_FLG
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    Anything...

    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Thumper
    What kind of riding will you be doing at night?
    Hm, I bet getting caught in the dark was unnerving -- I'd like to avoid that. As I said, for now I just want to get in some miles on weeknights on forest roads, trying to keep in shape for the longer weekend rides (not to mention just getting on the bike more than two days/week, you know!). But I can also imagine getting into more extensive night rides on more technical trails -- intentionally, of course So I'm willing to go for more than just a baseline light...

  4. #4

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    Heres sumpn!

    Heres a decent system at a low price on Ebay. Check it out!
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...685462541&rd=1

  5. #5
    life is a barrel o'fun
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    NiteRider

    Thrilled with this brand, although it can be pricey if new. It's a helmet-mounted HID. I do a lot of night riding on the trail, though, so I find it's worth the cost.

    I have a simple bar-mount for my street bike, but that's more of a formality. Helps people see me rather than the other way around.

    The helmet mount is preferable for the trail, because it shines where you're looking. The bar mount gets a little confusing, as you're constantly steering, and won't necessarily be able to see where you WANT to go!

  6. #6
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    For fireroads or fast riding, get bar mounts. For singletrack, get helmet mount. I have a NiteRider classic dual beam 12W spot and 20W flood. It's perfect for fast riding, but you'll miss the trail if you're riding twisty singletrack. The lights don't point where you want to look, they just point where the bike is headed. IMO, the best would be a dual beam bar mount or anything equivalent to around 30W output on the bars combined with something like a 15W helmet mount. Use the high output bar lights for fast descents and the helmet for climbs and singletrack.

  7. #7
    Beyond the stars
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    Lights, Lights, Action . . .

    hogwash, poppicock, bull, I would disagree with just about anything everyone said (sortof) I think NightRider makes several excellent product lines, all kinds of lights, but then again so do other manufactures.

    MTBR did a test of lights a few months ago and gave excellent reviews and info, including beam size, brightness, etc. check the Product Reviews section for the writeup.

    Some information to consider:

    Cost:

    H.I.D. (High Intensity Discharge) can be expensive, $400 and up.

    Light color temp. (you know about this stuff right)

    HIDs give a blue-er/white light while

    Haluigen(sp) is more yellow, you know like the difference between new/expensive cars and older cars.

    Halo can be less expensive.
    Halo doesn't last as long (as far as burn times) and Halo's don't charge as fast

    So, opps forgot to charge my light can't ride tonight it will take 12 to 24 hours to charge, vs a HID, which can "burst" charge in your car's "cig" lighter in about 20 minutes.

    I think (IMHO) that the debate between bars and helmet mount is ALL PERSONAL PREFERENCE.

    with helmet you can look (and thus light) the switchback, with bar mount you can wiggle your bars to see your line and for the most part the beam is wide, so I don't think its that much of an issue. Also with bar mount, you carry your battery on your bike and not in your pack(depending which model you buy this can be an issue, batterys can be big, bulky and heavy) but . . .

    if you elect to go the "big bucks" route you can get a model with a smaller battery that doesn't weigh as much. So light on helmet and battery in hydration pack is ok.

    But if you go less expensive, like $100 to $175 you will most likely end up with a large (water bottle sized) battery even Nickel Metal Hidride (sp) batteries can weigh like 1/2 to 2 pounds, and can sometimes feel like you are adding a led brick to your bike, but for the cost that is what you get.

    I have seen deals on the "Nightsticks" model of lights at SuperGo I have been told to stay away from the "stick" design of batteries, the connections are troublesome and they don't fit in a standard water bottle cage.

    Also with Halo you need more watts vs HIDs from the brightness standpoint, but most of this info is explained better on MTBRs article.

    Check their info and see if a local shop can rent you some lights to "test out" on a real ride.

    Cheers

  8. #8
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    I just got a Blowtorch after using a HeadTrip for years

    I saw the HIDs at 24 Hrs of Moab & had to have one. For reasons like yours--work & I have a wife & kid I need to spend time with. I have an older HeadTrip which works OK but it makes my helmet slide down/forward & I constantly have to push it back up. That got annoying. And, believe it or not setting up the Headtrip was a bit of a hassle if you are pressed for time. You have to thread the cord thru your helmet & keep the battery in your pocket or pack. I'd get kind of tangled up sometimes.

    SO, I opted for the bar mount. I suppose very tight singletrack presents a problem but near my house in Boulder the trails are wide.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
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    Bar mounts

    Helmet mount works, but it does not let you see shadows since it's in line with your eyes. On a tame trail it's OK, but sometimes you can get a BIG surprise with a helmet light. Been there - done that - I use bar mounts now.

  10. #10
    Silence! I kill you!
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    I go night riding

    every friday night, and the setup I use is the Dual Pro handlebar mount light from Performance, with a 12w spot and a 20w flood; and then I have the Niterider Blowtorch on my helmet. My performance light only has a run time of about 1 1/2 hours, so I use those lights when I am on the downhill sections of the trails. The Niterider light has a run time of about 4 hours so its all all the time. I don't have any problems seeing the trails at nite. If I only had to go with one light, it would be the Niterider one all the way.
    My photography website:
    Scott Mosher Photography

  11. #11
    Jeff_FLG
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    Blowtorch

    Thanks to all for the input. I think I will go with the Blowtorch, bar mounted. If i really get into it, maybe someday I'll add a helmet mount, but I don't see the need for it right now. The dual-beam digital Pro looked decent, but the product reviews (thanks DJBiker --- doh! -- why didn't I think of looking there?!) of that model were quite mediocre, and the HID just looks like a better beam than the yellowish halos. See you on the (dark) trails, and thanks again; all the replies were good food for thought.

  12. #12

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    good lights on the cheap

    you don't need no HID, you don't need no digital nuthin', and you sure don't need to spend $400 on lights.
    What you DO need is a single broad beam on your handlebar, even a 6 watt light is adequate for singletracking. Combine that with a tightly focused spot beam on your helmet. The helmet light lets you see up the trail, and around corners, or at what's growling at you in the oak brush, and is useful for repairs. The broad beam on the bar, aimed just ahead of you, lets you see the trail immediately in front of you.
    Often you see blowout pricing on 6-volt, 6 to 10 watt bar systems that use D cell nicads in a bottle pack. I got some Specialized lights like this for $29 some years back. The good thing about having to put in D cells (usually 5 of them) is that for longer rides, you can carry 5 spare batteries. Enclosed super duper expensive battery packs have a nasty habit of crapping out before you're done riding; moreso in cold weather.
    Nicads are lighter than regular D cells. Radio Shack has a charger for under $10 for them. D cell nicads are like $2 a pop mailorder, ask google.
    Two lights of moderate wattage, one on the bar, one on the helmet, is infinitely better than a superduper high wattage megalight on the handlebar and none on your head.
    Look into TurboCat lights. They are great, reliable lights, easily worked on, and reasonable prices. I've been using Tom's lights for going on 14 years now with nary a complaint.

  13. #13
    "Mr. Britannica"
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJBiker
    Halo doesn't last as long (as far as burn times) and Halo's don't charge as fast
    Aren't these more a function of battery type/capacity and the charger?
    Last edited by roadiegonebad; 07-03-2004 at 08:49 AM.

  14. #14
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    I can tell you this: I went on a nightride with a friend and he had a NiteRider Evolution, which is a 10 watt narrow-focus light mounted on his helmet. I had a NiteRider Classic on my handlebars, which is 12 watt narrow-beam and 20 watt flood. For all the climbing, I used my 12 watt which wiggled back and forth as I struggled to keep my bars straight. His light seemed much better for climbing. Once we got to the top, it was pretty foggy and his light ended up mostly reflected by the fog while mine seemed much more effective. One the downhills, he had trouble seeing the dips and bumps in the trail. At this point, I had both 12 and 20 watt lights on. I was *much* faster on the downhill due to my brighter lights. The funny thing was that I was going so fast that I almost missed a trailhead that split off from the one we were on. This is where I think the helmet-mounted light would have seen it since it was to the side and my bar-mounted lights weren't pointed that way.

    From observation, his 10 watt light was noticeably dimmer than my 12 watt. If you are only to have one light, I'd say go with at least 15 watts.

  15. #15

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    Jet Lites

    I've had Jet Lites Phantom since last November. If you look at the product reviews page on this site, you'll see Jet Lites got nothing but good reviews.

    Personally I prefer helmet lights. I've been told that ideally you want both handlebar and helmet lights, but since these things are pricey I think helmet makes more sense. I need the light to see, and therefore I need the light pointed where I'm looking.

  16. #16

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    Be sure to check Ebay for lights. I just picked up a Light & Motion Arc (H.I.D), lithium ion, for $200 (they retail for $430-$500). The guy said it had been used once, but most of the accessories in the package were still in their individual sealed packaging. The battery is about the length of one deck of cards and the width of two, and very light... And it comes with both handle bar and helmet mounts, so there are no decisions to be made.

  17. #17

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    more input from the cheap light advocate

    Quote Originally Posted by CharT
    I can tell you this: I went on a nightride with a friend and he had a NiteRider Evolution, which is a 10 watt narrow-focus light mounted on his helmet. I had a NiteRider Classic on my handlebars, which is 12 watt narrow-beam and 20 watt flood. For all the climbing, I used my 12 watt which wiggled back and forth as I struggled to keep my bars straight. His light seemed much better for climbing. Once we got to the top, it was pretty foggy and his light ended up mostly reflected by the fog while mine seemed much more effective. One the downhills, he had trouble seeing the dips and bumps in the trail. At this point, I had both 12 and 20 watt lights on. I was *much* faster on the downhill due to my brighter lights. The funny thing was that I was going so fast that I almost missed a trailhead that split off from the one we were on. This is where I think the helmet-mounted light would have seen it since it was to the side and my bar-mounted lights weren't pointed that way.

    From observation, his 10 watt light was noticeably dimmer than my 12 watt. If you are only to have one light, I'd say go with at least 15 watts.
    Problem with only a helmet light is exactly the same problem you get when you drive in a snowstorm with the high beams on. Fog would also be bad, as is trail dust kicked up by riders you're following. Your eyes and the light are at about the same place, so anyting in the air reflects the light back at you. Also true what someone said about not being able to judge the terrain with just a helmet light, big drops look little, little holes look huge.
    but I disagree you need huge wattage on the handlebar for singletracking speeds and condiitons. Maybe for bombing fire roads. At singletrack speed, a moderate light aimed just ahead of your wheel, supplemented by a focused beam that lets you see where you aim your head, works great. Anyone whose used a bar light/helmet light combo will tell you that both is way better than blowing all your bucks on just a bar light, no matter how bright it is. When you're riding a tight switchback, the bar light is aimed off into space, not where your wheel is going to be a second later. Thus, the helmet light.
    I have a bunch of lights. I loan them out to lightless buddies so we can ride at night. I usually give them the more powerful bar light, plus a cateye spot helmet light; and I use the same helmet spot, sometimes with only a cheapie C battery clamp on unit on the bar, the kind of light designed for road commuting, with no separate battery pack. Not near as bright as the big expensive barmount systems, yet I do just fine, I can still see in front of me, while the helmet spot lets me see ahead. If yougot mega bucks, hey be my guest. If you're on a budget, spend most of your wad on a spot beam helmet light and get something cheap on the bar, you will be fine.
    One big caveat: Don't, DON'T buy any NiteSun products. Their customer service is a standout classic in the bike industry for how not to treat customers. No matter what issue you have with the lights that prompts you to call them for help, they will belittle you as someone who obviously knows nothing about lights compared to their genius owner, and anything that's not working right will be deemed your fault. If you doubt that, ask around at any shop, everybody knows these stories,they are legendary. Or check the mtbr reviews. That's why you seldom see NiteSun products carried in bike shops. The lights actually don't suck, but no one wants to deal with the owner. I read on mtbr about someone who posted a negative review of a nitesun light, and got a phone call at home from the livid nitesun owner.
    So I hope the guy is reading this and wants to sue me or something. I can come up with a couple thousand Nitesun owners and shops who used to sell the product who will back up what I've said. Bring it in.
    Last edited by bulC; 07-03-2004 at 05:24 PM.

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